The Bushman’s Medicine Show

Gary Copeland Lilley


Everyday day my god is the same

light that breaks through the trees

and holds the water snakes

that hunt the creek in a moment

of abeyance, a submergence

of their natural demon selves.

Trauma healing is what I’m selling,

a repair to whatever damage

is wrapped around our bones. I believe

in everything. It is in the word.

My fetishes; prayers to god, handmade

from whatever was near: a blue jay

feather, a shiny black stone,

a twisted knot of sassafras root,

two packets of reverent dirt

from my grandmothers’ graves

wrapped in the red from the flag

and dangling off my rearview mirror.

In the beginning the word was god,

and the music thereof. The spirit, believe it

or not, is a laundrymat, the washers humming

to that woman folding clothes from the dryer.



The water we drink has been blessed,

and we have spent hundreds of years

in the accumulation of false facts, a rot

to the magic of the ancestor tree

where I can go to shake a lucky hand.

I have what you need for the proper

offerings, links of iron chain, fresh tangerines,

hand-rolled cigars and silver crosses.

What else have we ever had

that was stronger than a mojo working,

stronger than our faith? All the words

written on the thin pages speak of it.

A joyful noise to praise whatever

done to have you here, a god promise

received at night, maybe a solitary flickering

white candle with a drop of lavender oil

to sweeten the air for song, go to the barn,

blues stacked by the bushels.

Let me put some light on your head,

an old gray fedora, comfortable, warm,

softly pinched and styled in the belief

that with my god word is bond.

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